Much of this trip is about space: creating space, intentionally filling space, accepting blank space. It took a huge leap of faith to leave a steady paycheck and amazing yoga community in order to create the space needed to travel long-term, but that was only the beginning of the journey.
In the past 3 weeks, I've completed the 6 day Salkantay Trail hike through the Andes with a peak of 15,092 feet, experienced the mindblowing architecture and energy of Machu Picchu, indulged in a ton of amazing vegan cuisine in Cusco, and explored the many markets of the towns I've visited. Yet these were all planned experiences. Although my expectations were often blown out of the water by my actual experiences, I had some framework in my mind for how I anticipated these things to go.
So when we set off on another trek around Ausangate Mountain/Glacier with only about 1 hour of preparation, I was met with an entirely different experience. The snow covered mountain itself is over 19,000 feet high and the circuit around it is fairly untraveled due to the high altitude, extreme weather, and unmarked trails. From Cusco we traveled to he small town of Tinki, which doesn't see many foreigners. The night before our trek we stayed in a tiny 3 room hostel and had an intention setting ceremony with two other travelers who had set similar plans (albeit with a lot more preparation). We asked for things like being WOWed by the magnificence of Mother Nature, remembering to breath in moments of panic, getting back to out wild roots, and honoring our limitations without bowing out of challenges.
It's true, we all had the expectation of hiking for 5-7 days, seeing the snow covered goliath and the many colored lakes that sit around its base, and ultimately completing the circuit with a dip in the hot springs at its end. Yet, there is something different about setting intentions to bolster the expectations. Asking the Universe for guidance rather than results feels like such an ultimate act of creating space and just allowing it to be filled as Grace finds necessary.
When I typed "definition of intention" into Google, the second response after "an aim or plan" is "the healing process of a wound".
After hiking up to the gleaming white face of Ausangate and dipping in the hot springs during a hail storm, for an array of reasons, Orion and I made the difficult decision to turn back and not complete the Ausangate Circuit. If you know he or I, then you know that "turning back" is really not in our vocabularies. Having an expectation and then making a conscious decision to turn away from seeing it through is quite foreign.
The first day in we were at an elevation of about 14,430 feet. We had hiked for almost 4 hours and went from warm, dry desert air to mushy plains to a snow/hail storm and below freezing temperatures within that time. After setting up camp around 2:00pm we dipped into the natural thermal baths to warm our frigid bodies and then attempted to cook dinner (note: split peas do NOT cook at high elevation). I was unprepared for the extreme cold and wind and my socks, gloves and hat had all gotten wet during the snowy rain. Orion's ankle was aching. Our food wasn't cooking. Overall, things just weren't working with us.
Yet, our bodies and the part of our Conscious that has our better interest in mind made the call for us. Our egos certainly wanted to check another trek off our list, but when we truly tuned in and asked what is best for our healing and well-being, the answer was a resounding "Listen. Turn back".
We had set many intentions, including the overarching intention of creating space for the absolutely unknown possibilities that could present themselves during our trip. While abandoning our plans of hiking multiple brilliant mountains of Peru, we were also accepting our response from the Universe and Pacha Mama as we had been asking for the most healing experiences.
Our moments of most profound healing come when we look to the Universe and say, "Here's the space. I'm open to your guidance!"
When you set expectations, are you also allowing yourself to set space for intentions?